Maurice Simpson, the president of the Prince George’s County Young Democrats, has been active in county politics for a number of years. He wants the voters of legislative District 24 to send him to Annapolis so he can represent their needs and concerns.

First, he must do well enough in the Democratic primary on June 26 to get on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election. Simpson told the AFRO he’s ready for the challenge. “Our campaign is going very, very well,” Simpson said. “Our campaign is strong and we are working very hard. As we travel across the district, we are getting great responses.”

Maurice Simpson is a candidate for the District 24 delegate. (Courtesy Photo)

Simpson is an evening student at the University of Maryland School of Law and works professionally for the Prince George’s County Council, the legislative body of the county.

The 24th legislative District is located in the central western part of the county, bordering the District of Columbia’s Northeast and Southeast quadrants. The district starts on the outskirts of Bowie to the north and snakes southward to Mitchellville, Largo, Landover, Lake Arbor, Woodmore, Seat Pleasant, Capitol Heights, Coral Hills, Suitland, and Hillcrest Heights. The district is 85.2 percent Black, according to the 2010 census. It is represented in the Maryland State Senate by Joanne Benson and in the House of Delegates by Carolyn J.B. Howard, Erek Barron and Jazz Lewis, all Democrats.

Howard is retiring from the House this year and Barron is running for re-election. Lewis was selected as a delegate by the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee in Jan. 2017 to take the place of then delegate Michael Vaughn, who left the legislature due to what he said were health reasons, but he was also embroiled in a bribery scandal.

When a delegate or a senator leaves office before their term is finished, Maryland law states the county’s central committee of the leaving member’s party decides who will serve the remainder of the term. A simple majority is needed to secure the seat.

The name is sent to the governor and, by tradition, the governor makes the appointment without controversy.

Lewis competed primarily with Simpson for the chance to fill out Vaughn’s term and Lewis got the small majority of votes to become the new delegate.

Lewis is running for re-election and he is a protégé of Benson. It is expected that Benson, Lewis and Barron will form a slate since they are political allies.

On their slate, that leaves room for one person but Simpson said he isn’t focused on trying to be with them at this time. “I am on no one’s slate,” Simpson said. “I am focusing on building my campaign and sharing my views with district voters.”

One hurdle to being on the Benson slate is the 2016 race for the U.S. Senate. Benson supported present U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Lewis and Barron went along. However, Simpson was for U.S. Senate hopeful and U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), who lost in the Democratic primary to Van Hollen.

“While Sen. Benson supported Van Hollen, Edwards got about 80-90 percent of precincts in District 24,” he said. Simpson hopes to get the 2016 Edwards voters and more, and that should put him in the top three in the Democratic primary.

Edwards, who is running for county executive, has not formally endorsed anyone for the District 24 delegates positions at AFRO press time.

As he travels the district, Simpson hears one consistent message from the voters.

“Voters tell me that they want a change in leadership,” he said. “They are tired of business as usual. They also want to improve the county’s education system and are tired of false promises.”

Simpson believes in bail reform, a woman’s right to choose when it comes to abortion, expanding Obamacare to cover all uninsured Marylanders at reasonable costs, equal pay for equal work, supporting a living wage, and reasonable gun safety laws that protect Marylanders Second Amendment rights to have guns but wants measures to make sure that criminals and the mentally unstable don’t have access to firearms.

In addition to Barron and Lewis, Simpson will compete for one of the three delegate positions with Seat Pleasant entrepreneur LaTasha Ward, Prince George’s County Council member Andrea Harrison (D-District 5), Capitol Heights Mayor Marnitta King, and political activists Delano Miller, Michelle R. Wright, and Joyce Starks in the Democratic primary.

Faye Howell is the president of the Tri-City Civic Association that is based in the unincorporated residential areas near Landover and Seat Pleasant. Howell told the AFRO she is impressed with Simpson. “I know Maurice is interested in politics and he is good at it,” Howell said. “I am aware that he is running for delegate and that race has a lot of good candidates.”

While Howell didn’t endorse Simpson, she said “he should do well.”